A new Moon will be rising in Walford this Friday when 1970s heart-throb David Essex makes his debut as antiques dealer Eddie Moon, father to Michael (Steve John Shepherd) and uncle to Alfie (Shane Richie).
This is the second opportunity that David has had to be in the BBC soap, having previously been offered the role of Honey Mitchell’s father back in 2005. But a proposed expansion in the part clashed with his music commitments and David’s character was recast.
His first appearance is a very brief cameo where he’s seen scanning a report about Kat’s recent baby woes in the East London Star. But we have to wait until Monday 6 June to see his arrival on the Square, when he immediately makes an impression by rescuing a wandering Amy from an impending road-traffic accident.
“It’s fast and furious,” says David of his on-set experiences. “I’ve never really done this kind of work before, you don’t really know what you’re doing till a day before. But I’m enjoying it. It’s a great adventure for me, something very different.”
These days, the singer of Hold Me Close and Gonna Make You a Star is something of the silver dream machine himself – grey-haired but looking immaculate in a tailored suit complete with pocket square. Could his undoubted twinkle be putting a spring in the step of the residents?
“There will be a little spark between Carol and Eddie but he has a lot on his mind at the moment, so he’s not sure if he wants to pursue that.”
What will be occupying his attention is his relationship with estranged son Michael, who he’s not expecting to see:
“Well, Eddie sees his nephew in the paper, so he just comes to see him and he doesn’t realise that baby Tommy is actually his grandson and that Michael is also living there.
“There’s a massive rift between Eddie and Michael, they haven’t really spoken for years, but as a father he reaches out and tries to mend that.”
Unfortunately, Michael isn’t exactly receptive to these overtures as he blames Eddie for his mother’s death. In increasingly fraught scenes, the pair will confront each other about their past – but don’t go expecting a quick reconciliation.
“I’m working a lot with Steve and Scott Maslen (who plays Jack Branning) at the moment and the scenes are very dramatic. I keep reaching out to him all the time but he has a lot going on in his head.”
He may be 63, but David shows no signs of slowing down just yet. He’s on screen as Eddie until autumn, at which point he’s heading back out on tour. But can a man who’s had 19 top 40 singles (including two number ones) and 16 top 40 albums pick out just one career highlight?
“There was an extraordinary period in 1973 when I finished my first film, played Jesus in Godspell and had a number one worldwide, so being successful in three different mediums was great. One of the positive things for me personally is being able to work in such varied fields.”